Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Dwarf Arrowhead - Sagittaria subulata   (L.) Buchenau
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Section 5 » Order Alismatales » Family Alismataceae
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Author(L.) Buchenau
DistributionFound essentially only in coastal areas and the Tidewater zone, from Currituck County on the north to Columbus County on the south.

This is a coastal and near-coastal species of the Atlantic Coast region, ranging north to MA and south to FL and west to AL.
AbundanceRare to uncommon in the Tidewater region. Though the NCNHP does not consider it as a Watch List species, the relatively low number of counties and records suggests that it should be Watch List, and the State Rank changed from S2S3 upward to S2.
HabitatThis is a species generally of tidal freshwater or oligohaline marshes, but especially on exposed mudflats and drawdown areas. It also can be found along margins of natural lakes and ponds, generally ones rather close to the coast.
PhenologyBlooms from May to September, and fruits shortly after flowering.
IdentificationThis is one of several confusing species that has both submerged leaf forms and emergent ones. Where leaves are submerged, they are phyllodial and can be up to 1.5 feet long, and very narrow (barely 1/5-inch wide). However, emergent leaves are much shorter, often just 2-3 inches long, though still mostly with linear (and flat) leaves. Occasionally, floating leaves can have ovate/elliptical leaves! The flowering scape can be up to 1 feet high, generally far overtopping the leaves. The flowers are in 1-3 whorls, but in this species each flower is on a long and slender pedicel (1 inch or more), and thus the flowers are a far way from the stem. Each flower, consisting of 3 white petals, is only 1/2-inch across or less. The most similar species is the odd S. filiformis, which usually has submerged stems that are 10 inches to up to 3 feet long. As with so many species of Sagittaria, if not seen in flower, most biologists will overlook it as a short grass or sedge.
Taxonomic CommentsThough this has always been a good species, some references have or had one or more other taxa within it. RAB (1968) named this taxon as S. subulata var. subulata, and also S. subulata var. gracillima (now named as S. filiformis). Weakley (2018) has S. filiformis as a good species, as do many other references.

Other Common Name(s)Awl-leaf Arrowhead, Narrow-leaved Arrowhead, Dwarf Sagittaria
State RankS2S3 [S2]
Global RankG4
State Status[W1]
US Status
USACE-agcpOBL link
USACE-empOBL link
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B.A. SorrieTidal river shore, Essex CT, 1980s. Photo_non_NCPhoto_non_NC
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